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The word for tomato in Hebrew is “Agvania.” The root of the word is to love or desire. Ben-Yehuda, the father of modern Hebrew, did not like this word selection for tomato. He thought it was too sensual and insisted on the more Semitic word for tomato, “badura.” However, in a rare occurrence Ben-Yehuda did not win the linguistic battle. People in Israel wanted to eat their “love apples” and that’s what they insisted on calling them.
12 medium-size ripe tomatoes
½ tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
6 tblsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
1 ½ cups rice
2 tblsp parsley, chopped
2 tblsp mint, chopped
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Cut the top off of each tomato and set aside. Scoop the pulp out of each tomato with a spoon and put in a saucepan.
3) Add sugar, salt, and pepper to pulp. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
4) Heat 3 tblsp of olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 10 minutes. Add pine nuts and cook an additional 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly.
5) Add rice, raisins, 1 ½ cups of hot water, parsley and mint to frying pan with onions. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and let simmer while covered for 12 minutes. Make sure all liquid is absorbed.|
6) Scoop rice mixture into hollowed tomatoes. Replace tomato tops. Arrange tomatoes in casserole dish.
7) Pour pureed tomatoes and a ½ cup of water into the bottom of the dish. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
Shelley Neese is managing editor of The Jerusalem Connection (www.tjci.org).
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